By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Greater Dandenong mayor Jim Memeti says ex-ALP powerbroker and alleged-branchstacker Adem Somyurek has had no direct influence in council affairs.
The Star Journal asked if the Dandenong-based Mr Somyurek had involved himself in mayoral elections and council elections at the Labor-dominated council.
“Never. No,” Cr Memeti replied.
“I don’t think he’s got the time. It’s said he was running two-thirds of the Labor Party (state seats).
“He’s a busy person more interested in state and federal politics. Why would he be interested in Dandenong Council?”
In 2009, Mr Somyurek denied allegations that he’d tried to induce Greater Dandenong councillors to install his electorate officer Pinar Yesil as mayor.
“I just would not get involved with it,” he told The Age at the time.
“What’s happening is that councillors talk between themselves and they interpret that to being me talking to them and they stretch the truth.’’
In recent months, Cr Memeti had met the then-Local Government Minister Mr Somyurek a dozen times as part of a Covid-19 mayoral advisory panel.
Cr Memeti has known Mr Somyurek since 2005, when the mayor was first elected to Greater Dandenong Council.
He had found Mr Somyurek to be “pretty business-as-usual” as a Minister, he said.
Branch-stacking was “nothing new” in political parties including the ALP, Liberals and Greens, Cr Memeti said.
But he “absolutely didn’t expect what I saw” on Nine Network’s report linking Mr Somyurek to an alleged “stackathon”.
It included the reported use of Parliamentary staff and paying for fake memberships as part of an extensive operation.
“I always knew he was on the national executive of the ALP. You have to be a powerbroker in the party to do that, you have to have the member support.
“I did know he had a lot of members in the party.”
Cr Memeti said Mr Somyurek “absolutely should not have said” his derogatory comments about Dandenong MP Gabrielle Williams, which were covertly recorded.